Mistakes in school tables criticised

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The Independent Online
MINISTERS faced criticism last night after a string of errors were exposed in the Government's official school league tables.

The Department for Education was forced to correct its figures after nine schools with high A-level scores turned out not to have sixth-forms. The school listed as having the worst truancy rates in the country turned out to be a special school for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, with 95 per cent attendance.

Among the schools with A-level scores but no sixth-forms was Chapel-en-le-Frith School in Derbyshire, which according to the figures had an average A-level score of 54 points - equivalent to five A-grades and one C-grade. Kensington Park School in London and Walton-le-Dale High School in Lancashire, both 11 to 16 schools, were each given an average score of 52 points.

Rossendale School, Lancashire, was shown to have the highest truancy rates in the country, with an average of 20.5 per cent of pupils missing each session. Its head teacher said yesterday that its attendance rate was 95 per cent and that the 5 per cent who were missing almost always had permission.

The use of 'raw' data in the tables was also criticised. The London Research Centre said that if figures for Hackney, east London, had been weighted to take account of 22 per cent unemployment, it would have leapt from 98th place to third.

Schools for which there was no truancy information in yesterday's Independent did not necessarily fail to provide figures. Some simply had very low absentee rates. Scottish and Welsh schools' tables will be published in the Independent on 24 November.

Letters, page 19